US hits DRCongo rebel chief with sanctions

The United States ordered sanctions Tuesday on Sultani Makenga, the head of the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for his role in atrocities in the country.

Leader of the Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) militants, who control part of DR Congo's restive east, Makenga was cited for deploying child soldiers into the conflict and for illicit arms trade.

"Makenga is responsible for extensive atrocities against the population in the DRC, including the recruitment of child soldiers, and campaigns of violence against civilians," said Adam Szubin, head of the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

"Today's action reflects the international community's commitment to resolving the ongoing crisis in the region."

The sanctions freeze any of Makenga's assets in the United States or US jurisdiction, and forbids any Americans from doing business with him.

The Treasury said that M23 under Makenga, 38, has been responsible for "extensive atrocities" against civilians in the DR Congo.

It cited the UN Commissioner for Human Rights as labeling the M23 leadership as "amongst the worst perpetrators of human rights violations in the DRC, or in the world for that matter."